Freddie Gray death: Testimony ends in trial of 3rd officer

The defense rested Friday in the trial of Caesar Goodson, the Baltimore police officer facing the most serious charges in the death of Freddie Gray.

Closing arguments are scheduled to be delivered at 10 a.m. Monday.

Gray, 25, suffered a devastating spinal injury and died in April 2015, about a week after he was arrested on a weapons charge and placed in a prisoner van driven by Goodson.

The prosecution argued Gray was injured in a “rough ride,” described as punitive measure police used against unruly subjects.

Baltimore Police Officer Edward Nero testified Friday that Gray was not being cooperative when he was arrested and a crowd began to gather. Nero, a responding bike officer, established a perimeter and said Gray had to be pulled in to the van.

As soon as the van doors closed, Nero said, Gray began banging, yelling, screaming and violently shaking the van from side to side.

On cross examination, Nero was asked if Gray was being uncooperative with officers by going limp. Nero said yes.

Nero said he did not see who closed the door, and could not say for certain whether the loud banging from the van was kicking or head banging.

Gray was the only prisoner in the van at that time and officers have said he was too unruly to secure with a seat belt.

Prosecutors contend Goodson drove so radically that he blew through a stop sign and veered into another lane of traffic because of the speed he was traveling, which they said would have tossed Gray around in the van.

Defense lawyers contend Gray’s injuries were caused in part by his own agitation and thrashing around in the van.

They contend the medical examiner initially called the death a “freakish accident.”

Gray’s death ignited street protests in Baltimore and became part of the national debate on police violence against African-American men.

Goodson, the third officer to go on trial, was charged with second-degree depraved-heart murder, second-degree assault, misconduct in office, involuntary manslaughter, manslaughter by vehicles (gross negligence), manslaughter by vehicle (criminal negligence) and reckless endangerment.

Nero was one of six officers charged in connection with Gray’s death and the second to go on trial. He was acquitted in May by Judge Barry Williams, the same judge who will determine the Goodson’s fate. Like Nero, Goodson opted for a bench trial.

The defense called nine witnesses in all, including the another officer who has already faced trial, William Porter. His own trial ended in a mistrial in December.

Goodson chose not to testify in his own defense.

Previously, Dr. Carol Allan, the assistant state medical examiner, testified “with a reasonable degree of medical certainty” that the spinal cord injury Gray suffered was distinctive, that it could only happen in a certain way and that it occurred while he was in the van.

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